Gender Diversity Ambassador Award

Gender Diversity Ambassador Award winner Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon

With a desire to help people, Elena Rodriguez-Falcon decided to study Mechanical Engineering in her hometown, Monterrey in Mexico. Her main focus was on designing technical solutions that would help improve people’s lives, which would later become a reality in her career, but not before spending several years working in the industry in Monterrey.

Elena joined The University of Sheffield in 2001, where she was the founder of the University of Sheffield Enterprise (USE); Institutional Director of Inclusive Learning and Teaching; Director of Enterprise Education and the inaugural Director of Women in Engineering. She went on to become Director of Communications and External Relations of Engineering, whilst holding a Chair in Enterprise and Engineering Education.

In 2012, Elena was recognised for her contributions to education and was awarded the status of Principal Fellow at the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) - one of the first ten in the UK. Elena is also Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and of the Chartered Management Institute.

Elena is a staunch ambassador for gender diversity in engineering and technology. Having spent over 25 years in male dominated learning and working environments, Elena has led national and international activities to seek to bring balance to engineering where the lack of female representation is painfully evident.

This passion led her to become the inaugural Director of Women in Engineering in Sheffield, where Elena fully embedded Women in Engineering as a strategic priority, and adapted structures and systems to ensure equality and increase representation of both students and staff. In addition, Elena set up the first Women in Engineering Student Society in the UK, who have gone on to publish two children’s books to raise awareness and change perceptions.

In 2018, Elena’s pursuit for diversity, inclusion and disruptive education in STEM took her to the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE). NMITE is a greenfield higher education institution, which Elena has been leading as its President and CEO for the past four years. Elena brought her vision to NMITE, to attract future engineers from all corners of society and educate diverse change makers who will go on to challenge convention and reflect their diversity in their solutions.

Elena has received numerous awards throughout her career but in 2020, she was named Executive Leader of the Year by Equal Engineers, Distinguished Mexican in the UK by the Mexican government, and Woman of the Year by FDM everywoman in the Technology Awards.